Today more than ever before, information and communication technologies (ICT) have the potential to provide new solutions to the many challenges that modernizing societies around the world face. In Asia-Pacific in particular, ICT is a source of innovation that has spurred a virtuous circle of additional skills, employment and investment, resulting in applications and tools that are changing the way policymakers tackle development challenges. Data collected through mobile devices and the Internet, for example, could help policymakers understand rural population health trends or identify deadly outbreaks of disease in remote areas.
The ability to properly measure progress in the development of ICT is a key tool that allows policymakers to make informed decisions in not only the ICT sector, but also health, education, and other government services. The Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development (the “Partnership”) is an interagency initiative that defines core indicators on a wide array of ICT-related fields, filling the gap in statistical methodologies and standards. The Partnership has increased the availability of statistics around the globe, however large data gaps remain in developing countries of Asia and the Pacific, hindering effective policymaking in ICT and other fields. ESCAP, as a member of the Partnership, aims to help the Asia-Pacific region collect and track ICT data, according to international standards, on a regular basis. It also promotes collaboration with other agencies to deliver appropriate technical assistance to build national and regional capacities for ICT measurement.
Held in two phases, in 2003 (Geneva) and in 2005 (Tunis), the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is an international coordination initiative that provides a platform to measure global progress towards achieving various ICT targets. The WSIS targets cover different areas, such as connecting schools, hospitals and public libraries to the Internet, and encouraging the development of online content in local languages.
Ten years after the Geneva phase of the WSIS, the international community is reviewing global and regional progress towards the WSIS targets, including positive outcomes and shortcomings. ESCAP conducted the comprehensive regional review for the Asia-Pacific region, through consultations with line ministries and national statistics offices, and this review will feed into international efforts to develop a new framework for action on ICT for development.